Pirates Notebook: Cabrera out of sight, mind at Turner

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ATLANTA -- Francisco Cabrera is buried here, thanks to old Pirates hands.

Of course, this is a tale told by Pirates instructor and longtime coach Rich Donnelly, and it involves the staff Jim Leyland took from the successful Pirates teams of the early 1990s to the world-champion Florida Marlins.

The way Donnelly remembers it, the biggest and clearest video board in the major leagues displayed for seemingly three innings early in the National League Championship Series Game 6 a huge, name-this-ex-Brave photograph of Cabrera, scourge of the 1992 NLCS for all things Pirates. Turner Field officials knew the effect it had on Leyland and Co., Donnelly said. It made their 7-4 Marlins victory and subsequent World Series championship that much greater to savor.

But first base coach Tommy Sandt sought to put it away for good.

"Tommy went out and got an 8x10 picture of Francisco Cabrera," Donnelly recalled yesterday from the same Turner Field visitors' clubhouse. He pointed beyond the outfield. "Over there they have home plate or bushes or whatever's there [from old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, site of that 1992 Game 7 ending]. This guy has been on our shoulders for five years, so Tommy dug a hole and buried the picture.

"The ghost of Francisco Cabrera is buried. It's over. We got him. We redeemed it. We played the Braves three years -- 21 games -- our staff did. We did it here in the sixth game.

"This is a special place. Lots of memories."

Injury update

Shortstop Jack Wilson returned last night to the starting lineup after missing Sunday's game because of shoulder soreness, a remnant from the Saturday force out where Houston's Ivan Rodriguez fell on him.

Tyler Yates (inflamed elbow) is scheduled to throw a simulated game today at Turner Field. "If that goes well," manager John Russell said, "we'll look to get him out on rehab."

Already on such an assignment, Donnie Veal is scheduled to pitch every second or third day with Class AAA Indianapolis, and he embarked on a good start yesterday. In an early morning contest, Veal worked two innings of scoreless, hitless relief with three groundouts, two strikeouts, a flyout and 15 of 23 pitches for strikes. "It'll be good for him," Russell said of Veal's rehab work.

Asked whether Veal could come off the disabled list soon, the manager added, "We'll see how it goes. Make sure he doesn't have a recurrence with his groin. That'll be the first step. The next step is just see how he's responding with his pitches and his consistency."

About the draft

General manager Neal Huntington sent to season-ticket holders a letter regarding the three-day draft and in it may have tipped the club's hand about selectivity and breadth:

"It does not seem likely there will be a Pedro Alvarez-type talent available to us when we select fourth. ... but the 2009 draft class is deeper than the 2008 class, and is especially deep in pitching talent. ... It is important that our draft be reviewed based on the total resources allocated by the August 15 deadline and not only the first few round selections on June 9. Our selections may or may not match-up with the rankings compiled by various publications, but in every case we will select the player who we feel will have the greatest impact on the Pirates' organization."

He reiterated the club will consider all prospects regardless of agents or "financial restrictions."

Chuck Finder can be reached at cfinder@post-gazette.com .


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